Prep students get to grips with business ethics

From the perspective of the business owner, getting young people adequately prepared for the work place is an incredibly important aspect of their secondary education, yet how many times have we heard business people complaining about the complete lack of understanding by school leavers with regard to what is expected of them in the workplace? The Journal finds out how business ethics taught as part of Junior Achievers programme is helping to broaden young minds, giving them a good grounding in the basics, in preparation for the business world.

According to Wil Pineau, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Achievement programme run by the Chamber of Commerce has helped thousands of young people appreciate the intricacies of running a business:

“They learn life skills, business ethics, how to create a company and operate their own business; all the different elements that are necessary for success,” he confirms.

Expanding the programme has been a focus for the Chamber and so in November 2009 Tara McField, Junior Achievement Programme Director was brought in with a mandate to grow and develop Junior Achievement in the Cayman Islands.  She started researching JA programmes and out of the 36 she reviewed she found that there were two major elements missing in Cayman: that students were not adequately prepared to undertake employment and none of the existing programmes target primary students. Tara decided that business ethics was an important element that could be introduced to the programme which would assist in preparing young people for the business environment.

“Much like everyone else our young people are faced with challenges every day. The question remains what is the right decision? As our youth enter the workforce the presence of this question lingers. Going over the course material for the JA business ethics programme I felt our youth would benefit from this programme as they go into the workforce,” she confirms.

Deloitte offers its support
As Tara continued to research JA business ethics she says discovered that Deloitte & Touche USA LLP partnered to develop the programme with JA Worldwide.

“I thought how fitting it would be for Deloitte Cayman to partner with JA Cayman to offer the programme and so I approach them and their response was extremely positive,” she says.

Alison J. Dunkley, with Deloitte explains: “Deloitte in the Cayman Islands has had a long relationship with Junior Achievement.  We believe that JA plays a significant role in the Cayman Islands in empowering youth.  It assists students at different levels to develop important values related to entrepreneurship and social responsibility.  Since we believe that these values are really important for future professionals we have supported their activities.”

In particular, Alison says that Deloitte is concerned about the quality of the future talent pool and want to continue its community investment by supporting youth educational efforts. 

By way of some background she says: “Following the events of early 2002, Deloitte in the United States assumed leadership in helping restore trust in the accounting profession and faith in the business community. Together with Junior Achievement it seized the opportunity to respond by investing in the development of a learning tool to address a serious social issue: the need for early ethics education among the nation’s youth.”

Alison says the relevance is not isolated to the United States: “Ethics is the foundation on which everything else depends. The shared values and global ethical principles that govern our firm’s daily business activities and relationships are clearly outlined in our code of ethics and are an integral part of Deloitte’s commitment to sustaining the public trust. So it was only natural that when presented with the opportunity to sponsor the programme locally we readily accepted.” 

Cayman Prep embraces the programme
Once the training package had been agreed upon Tara says she approached the schools in Cayman to see which would be interested in having the course taught to their students.  Cayman Prep was the first to sign up and, as at the start of the 2010 school year, have it taught to all grade 12 and 13 students, although the programme can be taught from grade 10.

Tara then turned to the local business community to seek business professionals to facilitate the programme.

“This was no challenge,” she says, “as the business community seemed eager to assist in the area of ethics.”

Deborah Bodden, Manager, Commissions Secretariat is one such facilitator. She explains:

“The programme overall gives the students an opportunity to gain an understanding of how the decisions they make as individuals affects others around them.  The first session was one in which the students had to use both their real life experiences and their imaginations to complete the exercise.  It allowed them to learn a great deal about the choices they would make in a difficult situation and how in life we have to weigh our wants and needs against the values and ethics we have been taught to live by.” 

Natalie Jordan, Head of Business and ICT at Cayman Prep and High School says the relevance of such a programme has never been more important:

“With a world revolved around the economy and the business industries, it is important for young people to understand the ethics needed to go far in the business world. The JA ethics programme is a useful tool for any young business enthusiast to take part in, to assist with them achieving the very best they can, in both personal and work life. It is great to have the opportunity to be part of such a positive and wonderful learning experience that gives students the chance to meet with people from the business world.”

Tara says students are embracing the new programme.
Student Shequita Lynchsay: “It’s a fun and exciting way to learn about business and personal ethics. It shows you how you might handle a particular situation and more importantly, that “life is the choices we make”

Student Neith Rheingold adds: “The JA Ethics programme is great, you learn a lot and have fun. We have enjoyed our sessions so far.”
Student Adeline Sully says: “I found the JA Ethics very important because it helps you as an individual to discover the importance of your choices and how they can affect you not only in a business but also in society.”

Student Dean-Paul Wallace furthers: “After completing one session of the JA Ethics program all I have to say is, imagine how positively different the world would be if everyone could attend one of these sessions!.”

If any school is interested in learning more contact the Programme Director, Tara McField at the Junior Achievement office located in the Chamber of Commerce at Governors Square | call 949-4306 | email jacayman@candw.ky

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From left: Tara McField, Neith Rheingeld, Shequita Lynchsay, Anya Payne, Bonnie Bodden, Dean–Paul Wallace, Natalie Jordon and Adeline Sully.

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